Everyone’s familiar with Florida’s treasure trove of beautiful beaches tourists love visiting yearly. While the landscape and local economy constantly change, here’s a list of must-see beaches to visit on your next trip to Florida.
1. “30A” Between Destin and Panama City
If you’re unfamiliar, Floridians refer to the scenic highway stretch between Destin and Panama City as the “30A”. This area used to be considered a hidden gem but has since experienced a significant influx of new visitors. Understandably, people come from all over to admire the splendor of Florida’s “Emerald Coast,” consisting of a collection of quaint little towns nestled next to some of the most attractive beaches you’ll ever see.
2. Siesta Key
Though the name may be misleading, Siesta Key is not a part of the famous Florida Keys south of the state’s tip. Representing the very definition of a white sandy beach, it’s an eight-mile-long island that sits next to Sarasota, featuring soft, teal-colored waves and a wide array of oyster bars and seafood restaurants for adventurous foodies.
3. Anna Maria Island
Known for its laid-back vibes, this colorful paradise spanning a short 20-minute drive from one side of the island to the other makes getting around easy. The most common modes of local transportation are golf carts and bikes. Picture yourself digging your feet into the velvety sand, taking in the warm sunset glow, all while sipping on a cocktail from The Sandbar Restaurant. Even breakfast becomes a big deal when you head to Ginny’s & Jane E’s for some delicious biscuits and gravy.
4. Marco Island
Only about 20 miles away from Naples, Marco Island is home to the beautiful Tigertail Beach, where visitors can search for seashells, participate in watersports, or observe wildlife. If the high-luxury lifestyle is more up your alley, you can head to South Marco Beach, teeming with skyrise resorts that are perfect locations for people-watching and sunbathing in peace.
5. Amelia Island
Touted as a serenely uncrowded beach escape on the northeast coast of Florida, the cooler temperatures tend to have the benefit of diverting the crowds of seasonal tourists (a.k.a. “snowbirds”) further south, thus leaving places like Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach to its seclusion. This underrated beach land is a literal treasure made from natural Appalachian quartz sand. You can check out Amelia Island’s diverse geological features, such as its dunes, salt marshes, and temperate beaches, at the stunning 200-acre Amelia Island State Park.
6. St. George Island
Being part of Florida’s Forgotten Coast won’t prevent visitors from having a memorable time exploring this relatively untouched piece of utopia. At Saint George Island State Park, there are various options for fun activities depending on personal interests. The gulf side has pristine white-sand beaches while the bay side has nature trails, marshes, and forest land, which houses many wildlife animals including fish and shorebirds. After spending a full day soaking up some sun, check out some fantastic dining options like Paddy’s Raw Bar for their oysters or satiate your sweet tooth with a trip to Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream.
7. St. Augustine
This lively area showcases some vibrant history, and its natural beauty has melded into a thriving destination that brings people back repeatedly. Even after multiple visits, tourists keep returning for delicious surf and turf at the iconic A1A Steakhouse, the spooky ghost tours, and the crystalline waters along St. Augustine’s gorgeous coastline. One of the less-frequented areas is called the Point of Rocks, just a short walk south on the shores of Crescent Beach.
8. Cocoa Beach
Located near the Kennedy Space Center, Cocoa Beach is ideal for swimming, relaxing, and catching larger waves for surfing because it is on Florida’s Atlantic side. If beach time isn’t the only thing you’re looking for, a casual stroll along Cocoa Beach Pier for shopping and dining might tickle your fancy. You’ll even get the opportunity to meet Sweetie, the local celebrity alligator if you decide to stop by the Florida Key Lime Pie Company for a bite of their sensational classic key lime pie.
9. Venice Beach
While Hurricane Ian significantly impacted the Gulf Coast, Venice Beach was lucky enough to evade its wrath and held up fairly well in the storm’s aftermath. Having 14 miles of unspoiled beaches, people can comb the soft sand for seashells and shark teeth. Don’t worry. These prehistorically dated teeth have long been detached from their owners. Spending the day tanning or wading in shallow, warm waters is an idyllic activity that anyone can enjoy.
10. Key Largo
Famously referenced in The Beach Boys’ song “Kokomo,” the Florida Keys rank among one of the top places to explore in Florida. With so many to choose from, Key Largo represents the best that the Keys offers. Rated as the top beach area in Key Largo, people can enjoy watersports like deep sea fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and sailing at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
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